In a saga where fans and the media have made a number of players villains, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun might be the worst of the lot as far as the Biogenesis and performance-enhancing drug situation is concerned.
Braun, speaking for the first time since he was suspended in July for the remaining 65 games of the season, issued a detailed statement on the Brewers' official blog in which he admitted to using a substance near the end of his MVP season in 2011:
Here is what happened. During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury, and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn’t have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.
It was a surreal moment for a player who used to be one of the most popular in the National League—he led all NL players in All-Star voting two years ago—but it was also the last, desperate move for Braun.
And unfortunately for him, there is nothing that he can say to anyone that is going to change the perception of him or his eventual legacy as a Major League Baseball player. Had he taken his deserved 50-game suspension in 2012, things very well could have been different.
Now here we are in 2013, and Braun has hit rock bottom. His name will forever headline the Biogenesis scandal, and he's lost around $3.5 million in salary as a result of the suspension—not to mention major endorsement deals.
On top of that, Braun, almost certainly for legal reasons, had to walk out of Miller Park the day his suspension was announced without saying a word to the public. There were t-shirts and jerseys in the stands at Brewers games with his No. 8 and the word "Fraud" in place of "Braun."
Yet that was just the beginning of what would turn out to be the worst summer of Braun's life. Buster Olney of ESPN reported that Braun lobbied for player support during the appeals process for his original 50-game suspension in 2012 by questioning the objectivity and beliefs of the sample collector:
In the calls -- confirmed by three sources -- Braun told other players that in the preparation for his appeal, some information had become known about the collector of his urine sample, Dino Laurenzi Jr., including that he was a Cubs fan -- with the implication he might work against Braun, who played for a division rival of the Cubs.
Braun, who is Jewish, also told the players that he had been told the collector was an anti-Semite.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports later wrote that a source close to Laurenzi denied Braun's anti-Semite claim.
No one argues Braun's right to challenge a positive drug test, but to thoroughly denigrate an innocent man just doing his job shows how low Braun truly sunk.
There was never any evidence that Laurenzi actually tampered with the sample.
Braun finally apologized, but it came months after he was implicated in Biogenesis and nearly two full years after failing a drug test. Nothing about him feels genuine; he had no problem selling out another human being, as well as letting teammates and friends defend him in public.
Braun is still under contract until 2020, and he'll make $113 million from 2014 to 2020. He will return to play baseball in 2014 and very likely do it at a high level.
Hopefully he enjoys the money, because the respect and trust of fans, teammates and so many others that took years to build is gone.
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